It seems like all of Patrice Leconte’s movies deal, in one way or another, with strangers colliding by fate, and his Monsieur Hire is no exception. Short on length (79 minutes) but not pathos, Leconte’s 1989 adaptation of the Georges Simenon crime novel follows the title character (Michel Blanc), an antisocial tailor who spies on his gorgeous neighbor (Sandrine Bonnaire), both of them suspects or accomplices in the murder of a girl. The film’s tone is colder than many of Leconte’s later, humor-infused films; Monsieur Hire feels decidedly Antarctic until its final reels, when it takes on an unexpectedly moving emotional heft. Its centerpiece scene finds Blanc and Bonnaire engaged in a symphony of eroticism in the stands of a boxing match. It’s handled with elegant precision by Leconte; ditto the way his gliding camera movements subtly anticipate his character’s actions. Monsieur Hire is an early indication of the work of a controlled master, his fission of fate and fatalism flourishing long before The Girl on the Bridge and The Man on the Train.
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